By Haines Sprunt Tate

In her breast they found a density.

Sounds they made against her body,

even sounds she could not hear,

would not go through it.


She would place one finger there

or there – her wishing would dissolve it.

It would melt away with the many months,

the many months of snow, it would melt away.

It was oh nothing, air,

or a piece of her that escaped loving,


a story she’d told no one, a fluid tale

hardened like a stone under her skin.

They told her no harm, no harm,

it was not what she could fear.

This ache was rootless, self-contained.

They said she would feel nothing


but their touch, she would not sleep

and when they opened her she would be

there and nowhere, and after it remember

nothing. For all their work they said

she’d keep one thin, thin scar.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem Copyright 2013 by the Estate of Isabelle Haines Sprunt Tate. Reprinted from Strata and Other Poems, Ghost Leaf Press, 2013, by permission of Duncan Tate and available for order at

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